"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thoughts on January 20th...

In order of importance...or maybe in order of appearance...or maybe in no order at all...

1. The man who called himself the "uniter," but who was much more of a "divider" is finally out of the White House. He claims that history will be kind to him, but I can't believe that 70+% of the American people (his disapproval rating) are wrong. #43 was a disaster.

2. I agree with the new president's generalizations...

"The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do."

3. I noticed that he forgot to mention "and the rest" when he listed our religious diversity...

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. "

...however, it's with a HUGE sense of relief that he included non-believers since even non-believers are citizens.

4. Some of his appointments, most notably his choice for Secretary of Education, make me nervous. However, unlike Rush Limbaugh who publicly announced that he hopes Obama fails as President, I hope that the new president proves my misgivings false and pushes the Department of Education towards authentic assessment, not just bubbles and DIBLES. I hope that the "change" promised includes best practices like problem solving and thinking, not just learning how to choose the best answer on a test. I hope that the era of punishing schools for the poverty of their clientelle is over.

5. I might focus on the misgivings I feel about the "politics of change," but only because things have been so horrible for so long...an 8 year nightmare of international swaggering and petty posturing has finally come to an end. Still, I remember the political disappointments of the past and while I'm hopeful that, with the end of the Bush era (please Jeb...don't do anything foolish) things will improve, I'm merely cautiously hopeful because I know that the president only represents one branch of the government. The faltering progressive majority on the Supreme Court needs to be reinforced as does the faltering progressive majority on the benches of the various Federal courts throughout the country. The progressive majority in congress is hopeful, but the Democrats proved themselves incompetent to stand up to the Bushes and the Cheneys. Do they have the brains to lead the country back from the nightmare we've just been through? Furthermore, I know that the new president is a politician...and by definition (mine at least) a politician has a tendency to tell people what they want to hear.

So, call me a cynic, but, as Ed Brayton, one of my favorite bloggers, said while talking about being moved to tears at the inauguration,
"The common misconception is that cynics are merely cold and negative, people who always find the worst rather than the good, but the truth is that every cynic is a frustrated idealist. Only someone who holds an ideal in mind can be bothered when they see that ideal undermined and ignored."
I've been called an idealist...and a cynic...

(My dad called me an idealist during the late 60s, when we discussed the "issues" of the day - most notably, Capitalism and the Viet Nam War. I don't think he meant it as a compliment.)

There are a few idealists left - Alfie Kohn, Jim Horn and Richard Allington to name a few of the more well known educational idealists...some masquerade as cynics, like Jerry Bracey and Susan Ohanian.

We all have been frustrated by the damage that the last 8 years has brought to the ideal of public education. So when the Promiser of Change brings in someone who has supported the damage of the last 8 years...and even worse, has contributed to it...it's disappointing to say the least.

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1 comment:

Meg said...

I consider myself to be a realistic idealist and I refuse to not feel hopeful.

I agree that the past 8 years have been a nightmare, the 8 years before while not a total loss were an embarassment and a disappointment, the 12 years before that gutwrenching and divisive. And this president is not liberal enough and he has made some appointments that are less than ideal. But I still refuse to not feel hopeful.

Just look at this president. I really never thought I would see a president who wasn't rich, male and white. It may be naive but I'm still so touched that the US rose above its past and elected an African American. That inspires hope.

The US people have made it clear that change is what they want... change from what Bush gave us. I'm going to trust that this will also mean change from the ridiculous posturing about education which took off and flew during Bush's term.

I'm just going to trust. I didn't know how horrid I had felt until it stopped and Bush went back to Texas. Things won't be perfect but they have just got to be better. I really trust that it will be better. Not perfect but progress will be made and it will be better.